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Its ok to believe in this team

The Boston Celtics are legit contenders. Its ok to say it.

Dallas Mavericks v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” - Mark 9:24

Its ok to believe in this team. Its ok to believe in this team. Its ok to believe in this team.

Keep saying that to yourself until you break down into an ugly cry like a scene from Good Will Hunting. We’re here for you. It’s not your fault.

Look, I know how hard it has been the last few years. Specifically that dark period between September 2020 and December 2021. A little over 15 months of highly forgettable, inconsistent, uninspired basketball. We all know the circumstances and excuses, but the end result was flat out hard to watch. A prolonged period like that that stretches across seasons would make any fanbase develop trust issues.

So when the team won a few games in January, we were waiting for the other shoe to drop. When they started piling up the wins in February, people started questioning the absence of talent and available players for the opponents we were beating. We’re now well into the 3rd month of this and it might be time to start believing in some of those statistical models that put us in the Legit Contender category.

The weird thing is that the core of the team hasn’t significantly changed. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and the emerging Robert Williams III were the key figures throughout. For some reason, that same core has gone from blah to boo-yah, from meh to magical, from excruciating to exhilarating. You get the idea.

I’m not going to pretend to understand all this. Despite countless hours watching this team, analyzing the team, and writing about this team, I’m still scratching my head. There were lots of theories about why it didn’t work before. Lots of guesses about what changed. Lots of analysis about what is going right now. I’m not here to re-litigate any of that. I’m just trying to tell you that it is ok to believe.

This isn’t a guarantee, mind you. You could still get hurt. The Celtics could run up against a bad matchup in the first round and find themselves going home early. Injuries can happen to anyone at any time. But that’s just the thing, these are issues that every team faces headed into the playoffs.

However, find comfort and confidence in that the Celtics are no longer beating themselves. They are no longer Jekyll and Hyde. They are no longer standing around waiting for things to happen. Instead, they are trusting each other, making the extra pass, giving the right effort on defense, showing resolve when the other team makes a run. They are taking on the personality of their coach and executing the game plan that he envisioned from Day One.

Tatum is playing like an MVP candidate. Jaylen is playing like an ideal 1B star. Smart and Derrick White are twin lockdown defenders that move the ball. Al Horford and Williams are twin basket defenders that move the ball. The rotation has largely been playoff-short, but lately, the contributions have come from everyone, even down to the 9th or 10th man.

Something clicked around the turn of the year and they just keep getting better. They are putting in the work. They are sacrificing for each other. They believe in each other. Maybe it is time that we believed in them, too.